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Wisconsin Plant of the Week

Lonicera villosa (Michx.) Schult.

Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)

Common Name:

mountain fly honeysuckle


The Honeysuckle family includes mainly woody shrubs and vines, with opposite leaves and five-parted flowers with fused petals.

Mountain fly honeysuckle is an uncommon native shrub found in swamps, bogs and wet woods and grows with upright branches to 1 m tall.  The white to yellow flowers bloom in May and June before the leaves are fully expanded.

Flowers are tubular, about 1 cm long, and nearly radially symmetric with 5 lobes and 5 stamens.  The flowers are in pairs on stalks in the axils of the leaves.  Several honeysuckles have flowers, followed by fruits, in pairs.  Mountain fly honeysuckle is unique in that its paired flowers are joined at the base to a shared ovary that becomes a single blue berry.

The leaves are opposite with smooth edges, prominent veins, fine hairs on the underside and often also on the leaf margins. The shape is oval, widest above the middle and rounded at the tip.

Many of the more common shrub honeysuckles in Wisconsin are non-native and invasive. These non-native species are easy to distinguish since they grow much taller, have brown pith inside their twigs and the twigs are hollow between the nodes.  All the native shrub honeysuckles have white, continuous pith.

  • Origin of the name: Lonicera, for Adam Lonitzer, a 16th c. German botanist; villosa,  L. with soft hairs
  • Range:  Circumboreal in N. Amer., south to NY, OH, MN
  • WI Range:  North and east WI, north of the Tension Zone
  • Common associates:  White cedar, tamarack, leatherleaf
  • Wetland Indicator Status: FACW
  • Coefficient of Conservatism: C = 8 (MI);  not listed in the Chicago Region
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